Around one store closed every day on Scotland’s high streets in the first half of the year, new figures show.
A total of 203 business outlets shut their doors in the first six months of 2016 - a rate of 1.1 shops per day.
The rate marks an increase on that recorded in 2014 and 2015, when there were 140 closures over the same period each year.
There were, however, 116 store openings in the first half of this year, meaning there was a net loss of 87 shops across Scotland’s town centres over that time.
The 2.7 per cent decrease on the total number of stores was the highest recorded in the UK, where the overall average stood at a drop of 0.8 per cent.
The latest figures were contained in PwC research compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC).
Overall, it found 3,201 stores were in business in Scotland in January 2016. By the end of June, it had dropped to 3,114.
Only Falkirk bucked the national trend to slightly increase the number of stores it has.
Wider trends across the country showed fashion shops had the highest number of openings, but also the largest number of closures.
Other large numbers of closures came from banks (down seven per cent) and charity shops (down four per cent).
In terms of net openings, satellite TV firms, health clubs and e-cigarette vendors led the way, the research found.
Lindsay Gardiner, regional chair for PwC in Scotland, said: “While the figure of 203 closures against 140 in previous years is higher and seems more dramatic, it averages out at just over one closure per day which has been the Scottish average for most years since 2012 - but that will be of little comfort to people who have lost their jobs and livelihoods because of this.
“While Falkirk may buck the trend - as has happened previously - it is still very tight for the local economy, making a case of cautious celebration for the area.
“As this data covers the first half of 2016, the full ramifications of the EU referendum vote are not realised but we have seen hints of challenges - like foreign exchange rates, living wage pressures and business rate increases - in certain parts of the Scottish retail sector as costs challenges begin to materialise.
“These can be managed provided revenue is maintained - so consumer spending will be crucial in the coming months.”
Across the UK, 2,656 business outlets closed on Britain’s high streets, a rate of 15 stores a day. The number of new openings fell to 2,153 - the lowest level since 2011.